Joseph Greif Architects

Principal: Joseph Greif

Specialty: Design of homes and commercial spaces

Year founded: 1991

2002 revenues: N/A

Projected 2003 revenues: N/A

Largest current project: $6 million view home on Burien’s Three Tree Point

Mercer Island home
Photo courtesy Joseph Greif Architects
A home on Mercer Island designed by Joseph Greif Architects.

The team at Joseph Greif Architects knew they had a big job when a client asked them to design a Mediterranean-style home to complement the light of a majestic Three Tree Point view of Puget Sound.

Traditional villas are heavy and boxy. “Through the design process we showed them we could capture the beauty of a Mediterranean-style home but present it in the Northwest environment to take advantage of the views and light,” Greif said.

The result is a more contemporary $6 million home with Old World touches, such as stucco walls and clay tile roofs. The styles are tied together by the work of area artisans. Fritz Church, for instance, created hand-worked metal railings to give continuity to what Greif calls the tactile environment.

This reliance on art is second nature to Greif, who’s from an artistic background. “Integration of art and poetry into the design is very important.”

The approach has paid off for the firm, which designed a $3.5 million Mercer Island residence that won Seattle Home and Lifestyle Magazine’s 2003 Home of the Year Award.

For a firm that does high-end design, the current economy should be challenging. But the small staff (three full-timers plus some part-time employees) works on projects that take a couple years. “That bridged us over the crash,” said Greif, who welcomes the shift from the build-it-at-any-cost late 1990s to the more sensible approach of today.

“People are spending a lot more time in the design phase,” Greif said. “They’re really concerned about the value of their dollar. They’re not overbuilding.”

He thinks the next big market for both residential and commercial will be the Rainier Valley. It’s all about light rail. “People are looking in this area and justifying fairly extensive remodels,” said Greif, who has a client building in Columbia City.

With more people willing to spend money, albeit cautiously, Greif said he may add one full-time employee next year at his University District office.

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